Let’s learn how to stop boredom eating for good because it’s often one of the biggest culprits in weight gain and barriers to fast weight loss.
Do you ever find that when you’re bored, you can almost hear the vending machine at work or fridge calling your name? You find your mind roams the depths of your kitchen cabinets, searching for the delights within.
We’ve all eaten when we’re bored, sometimes without realizing we’re doing it. It’s easy to fall into a hedonistic snack fest when you can’t find anything better to do.
The worst part is, when we’re bored, we often convince ourselves that we are hungry when we are actually not.
It might not be the worst thing if we snacked on carrots or apples when we were bored, but who does that?
Boredom eating gives the pleasure centers in our brains some instant gratification because our bored selves like to graze on empty calorie foods like sweets or chips.
Carrots just don’t give us that same “entertainment” factor that junk food does.
Using food for any reason other than putting nutrients into your body can lead you into a cycle of overeating. It can easily become a bad habit like smoking.
Like any bad habit, you can make a conscious decision to redirect your focus towards something that will feed your soul instead of your belly.
Are you ready to stop boredom eating for good?
Why we get bored
The German psychologist Theodore Lipps came up with a great reason for why we get bored. He said,
“Boredom is a feeling of unpleasure arising out of a conflict between a need for intense mental activity and lack of incitement to it, or inability to be incited.”
In other words, we get bored because we long for something. We desperately need something to happen, but we have no idea what we want, so we shut down.
Grabbing a donut or scarfing down a box of crackers is at least SOMETHING.
On a physical level, eating releases endorphins, which make us feel good, and dopamine, which stimulates reward/motivation behavior. We don’t really want those potato chips, we just want to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
You don’t need willpower to stop boredom eating, you just need a mindset change, which is way easier than trying to force yourself not to do something.
How to Stop Boredom Eating for Good
Find Your Triggers
“Know thyself,” some smart guy said a long time ago. If you want to stop boredom eating, it will help if you notice when you feel the urge to do it.
Are you triggered to snack at work in the afternoon when everything slows down?
Is it when you’ve run out of things to binge watch on a lazy day off?
Pay attention to when it’s happening and if there is a pattern in these events.
If it’s the 2:30 slump at work, arm yourself with a decaf coffee or a sparkling water to get yourself through that period.
If it’s in the morning between breakfast and lunch, schedule a walk during that time to busy yourself with something else. If you’re at the office, take a trip to a nearby coffee shop and grab some coffee or tea.
Once you know when your impulse to nosh gets turned on, you can find healthy alternatives to eating.
Schedule all your eating, including snacks
Snacking and eating outside of regular mealtimes can put a huge damper on your diet. So can skipping meals because when you’re both hungry and bored, it’s a deadly combo.
You will sabotage your calorie count faster than you can say “Goodbye weight-loss plan!”
When you schedule the times you’re going to eat every day, it makes it much easier to be aware of what you’re putting into your body. You become more mindful and in control of food intake.
You can schedule out 3-4 meals/day based on whatever fits YOUR schedule to prevent snacking and extra, empty calories during the day.
Cutting down on the number of times you eat a day also saves you time and energy by cutting down the number of decisions you make every day. This frees up your time to focus on the other aspects of your life that matter a lot more.
The desperate need for late-night snack-a-thons will also happen less because your newfound healthy eating cycle keeps you from getting hungry at weird hours.
Replace bad habits with good ones
It’s time to do a little brainstorming. Get a piece of paper and list the things you could be doing instead of eating. Think of things that might be fun, feed your soul, be good for you, and can fit in with your situation or mood.
Change can be a blast if you let it be!
If you’re sitting at your desk, maybe you could take a quick walk or do some office yoga. Finding something to do that keeps your hands busy, like knitting, coloring, a puzzle, or solitaire can also keep the munchie monsters at bay.
Better yet, use the time you have to feed your soul. Read an inspiring book, paint a picture, or write something. A great way to fill your time instead of eating is writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
There are many popular blogs out there that people started to chronicle their weight loss journey. You can also do a quick breathing meditation that will not only keep you busy but relax you.
Go for a walk! None of us get enough walking in these days or enough Vitamin D for that matter. Phone that friend you’ve been putting off for a while!
Don’t paint yourself into a pleasure corner. You should never rely on only one or two things for enjoyment.
That’s probably one of the reasons that you find yourself bored, to begin with.
Chose a variety of activities to keep you busy so your new healthy habits don’t become monotonous.
Create a food-free zone
We can be really habitual about where we feed our bottomless pit of a belly. Maybe we always snack at our desk at work, in the car, or on the couch in front of the TV.
Just like certain activities can trigger us to want to eat, so can certain places.
Create spaces in your work and home that are food-free zones, and swear to yourself that you’ll never eat in those places, including meals.
If you’re in the habit of snacking or eating lunch at your computer, try only eating in the break room or out of the office. If you find yourself always nibbling at something on the sofa, only eat at the dining room table.
If you are anything like me, this will also help keep your house and personal areas much cleaner! I’m a crumb-dropper, for sure – especially when I’m eating in front of the computer!
Make sure your other needs are being met
Could you be eating for reasons other than boredom?
Maybe you’re tired and need some energy, you’re stressed out, or upset about something.
When you decide that it’s time for a tasty treat outside of a meal, take a few minutes to check in with yourself.
How are you feeling? What were you thinking or doing right before you got the munchies?
Are you comforting yourself? For many of us, food is love and a way that we make ourselves better when we aren’t happy with something.
Make sure that you’re taking care of those parts of you that need a little extra love.
If you are boredom eating or binge eating more often than you’d like, it could be the sign of a serious underlying problem. It’s important to get rid of or at least limit these bad habits in your life and replace them with healthy ones.
Throw out those old, bad habits, replace them with new ones, and re-establish a healthy relationship with food again!